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What did we miss?

First slide

Lent, which seemed so long in the dark days of early March, is drawing swiftly to a close. As we enter into the liturgy of Holy Week, we are called to weep in community, and then to rejoice with one glorious voice. Palm Sunday is a moment of beautiful liturgical significance. It’s also the Mass most likely to find mothers and children in tears. Combine the longest Gospel of the year in a crowded pew full of children with spear-shaped branches that are wickedly sharp, and, well, good luck to you.

In all seriousness, and with reverence for the solemn celebration, remember our Lord weeps with you. He knows the struggle to gather these children into suitable clothes and buckle them into car seats, and to try to teach them well how to behave in the constraints of the pew. He sees you suffer as you endeavor to bow your head to pray only to be distracted by an errant palm. He knows the tears that gather in the corner of your eyes as the man behind you glares disapprovingly and you feel, yet again, as if you are failing in this most beautiful and important duty. Jesus weeps, too.

Under a canopy of waving palm branches, our Lord wept. Approaching Jerusalem, apparently triumphant, He slowed the pace of His donkey and looked upon the city in sorrow. Weeping, He said, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” (Lk 19:41-44)

What did we miss? How did we miss it?

We looked for the peace of an orderly Sunday morning. Instead, He asks us to carry the cross of fatigue and concern into the sacred space. We looked for affirmation from our neighbor, for understanding. Instead, He offers the contempt of the world as we answer the clarion call of His purpose for our lives. We looked for a comfortable life in a comfortable world. Instead, He unfurls the ladder to heaven and gives us a leg up as we start the long, steep climb.

And there we are, all together, avoiding the sharp edges of the palm branches, trying to make sense of it all, weeping with the Lord who is riding to His death. We weep because we’re learning that it will never all go our way. We weep because we know that every invitation to love is also an invitation to enter into the pain of relationship with another. We weep because this life of faith surprises us with its sharp edges. We weep because the two small boys who are now sword fighting with their palms will one day be fighting bigger battles to save their souls.

He weeps because we don’t recognize where to find our peace.

He knows how to save us.

God hoists us up onto that donkey and invites us to ride into the city. He asks us to enter into the suffering of His Passion. “It’s ok,” He seems to tell us, His eyes imploring us to trust Him, “I know how to save you.”

We only have to go with Him — to suffer with Him, to die with Him.

And then, we are saved with Him.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017